Master of Arts in School Counseling

M.A. School Counseling

credits* 60-63 | cost/credit $590 | completion 3 years (9 semesters) | Format online | next start May 16, 2022
| *students who do not hold a teaching license will take one additional course

Earn your Master of Arts in School Counseling online

Prepare for a rewarding career providing compassionate, competent school counseling services in elementary (K-8) or secondary (5-12) settings. With 100% online coursework and experiential learning, gain the skills necessary to use your calling in a professional counseling role for elementary through high school students. 

Faith-integrated school counseling program

In Northwestern College's online M.A. in School Counseling program, you will be part of a Christ-centered community dedicated to the development of outstanding counselors who are called to serve both Christ and society in diverse settings. Students integrate a biblical perspective with culturally sensitive and ethical clinical skills so they can courageously and faithfully support, empower, and contribute to their student's success.

Through NWC's M.A. in School Counseling you will be equipped to:

  • Apply ethical and legal considerations, behavior, and judgments in counseling situations
  • Display multicultural awareness and sensitivity
  • Demonstrate an ability to articulate a biblical world view and be able to articulate how your most important spiritual and religious values impact your counseling practice
  • Display the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to serve and influence your communities, workplaces, and families

100% online coursework. 8-week courses. Experiential learning. 

Through online, 8-week classes, students log into their courses to complete assignments each week on their own schedule.  Some courses include synchronous live classes, Zoom meetings with instructors or project meeting opportunities with classmates. Practicum and internship experiences enrich learning and skill-building through offering services to actual clients in approved and supervised settings. 

The master's in school counseling program is designed for working professionals to complete the program in three years (9 semesters) while continuing to work in their current careers. 


Professional preparation

Northwestern's Master of Arts in School Counseling is approved by the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners and aligned with the standards and competencies of the American School Counseling Association (ASCA), and the accreditation standards of the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The program plans to apply for CACREP accreditation as soon as the application is allowed (once the program has produced its first graduates).

After successful completion of the counseling program, you will be prepared to take the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE) and the Praxis Professional School Counseling Exam. 

Teachers licensed in Iowa complete the program to receive endorsements in K-8 (#172) and/or 5-12 (#173) school counseling. If you do not hold a teaching license, you will take one additional course, SCO 510, School Counseling Knowledge, Skills, & Dispositions, during your first term at Northwestern.


 

Application requirements

Next cohort begins May 16, 2022 

All applicants must submit:

  • Minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Official transcripts showing a  baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Completed application with short essay responses
  • Applicant writing sample
  • Updated  résumé
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation 
  • Teaching license (if the applicant holds a teaching license)
  • Background check through Castlebranch 

For more details see  how to apply.
Following a review of all completed application materials, applicants will be invited to a Zoom interview with a faculty member.
No GRE is required. No Application fee.


 
  1. Demonstrate preparedness to enter the counseling field as school counselors.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to apply ethical and legal considerations, behavior, and judgments in counseling situations.
  3. Recognize the impact of heritage, attitudes, beliefs, understandings, and acculturative experiences on an individual’s view of others.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of biological, neurological, and physiological factors that affect human development, functioning, and behavior.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to conceptualize the interrelationships among and between work, mental well-being, relationships, and other life roles and factors.
  6. Demonstrate the essential interviewing counseling, and case conceptualization skills necessary to be competent and ethical school counselors.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of the characteristics and functions of effective group leaders.
  8. Demonstrate knowledge of, and an ability to use assessments relevant to academic/educational, career, personal, and social development.
  9. Demonstrate knowledge of evaluation procedures for counseling interventions and programs.
  10. Demonstrate competence in assuming school counselor roles as leaders, advocates, and systems change agents in PK-12 schools.
  11. Demonstrate the knowledge skills, and dispositions needed to serve and influence their communities, workplaces, and families.
  12. Demonstrate multicultural self-awareness and clinical competence.
  13. Demonstrate an ability to articulate a biblical worldview and identify how their self-identified spiritual and religious values and beliefs impact their counseling practice.
  14. The program will demonstrate it effectively meets the needs of its key stakeholders.

 


Program requirements

The 60-63 credit school counseling program includes valuable hands-on learning in the practicum and internship courses. Students will apply theory and develop as school counselors by providing services to actual clients. They will also develop the skills and knowledge related to their counseling setting such as timeliness, documentation and site policies and procedures. 

  • The practicum experience requires completion of a minimum of 100 hours of which 40 hours must be direct client services. 
  • The Internship experience is a 600-hour experience of which 240 hours must be direct services to clients. 
  • Students who wish to receive both endorsements K-8 and 5-12 will split experiences in both settings. 

Courses

Year one:
COUN 505 - Professional Orientation
This course introduces students to the field of counseling in diverse settings, including school and clinical mental health settings. The course provides a broad overview and survey of the counseling profession, including its historical and theoretical foundations, the major professional associations of the counseling profession, and roles and responsibilities of counselors in a variety of settings and within and among the other mental health professions. Students will begin development of a professional identity and will reflect on their calling to the profession of counseling and their vision for using their masterâ??s degree in the future. Students will begin the process of spiritual formation for counseling. (3 credits)
SCO 510 - School Counseling Knowledge, Skills, & Dispositions (non-teachers only)
This course is offered to School Counseling students who come to the program without already holding a teaching endorsement from the State of Iowa. The Iowa Administrative Code (282-13.5(272) - Teacher licenses indicates that applicants from non-Iowa institutions must provide an official institutional transcript showing completion of at least 75% of the coursework in IAC 281-79.15(2) - 281-79.15(5). This course is designed to cover the requirements of IAC 281-79.15(4) and 281-79.15(5) to help students who do not hold a teaching license from the State of Iowa to meet this requirement. The requirements of IAC 281-79.15(2) and 281-80.15(3) are covered in SCO 550. School Counseling students who hold a teaching license from the State of Iowa are not required to take SCO 510 - School Counselor Knowledge, Skills, & Dispositions. (3 credits)
COUN 515 - Ethics
This course introduces students to legal and ethical issues relevant to the counseling profession and equips students with an ethical decision-making model for navigating ethical dilemmas and issues related to professional practice. Students will develop ethical sensitivity and utilize the ethical principles, which serve as the professionâ??s foundation for ethical behavior and decision making, in evaluating case studies. An overview of the Iowa statutes which govern practice will also be provided. The goal of this course is to get students to think about major issues related to the professional practice of counseling, while challenging them to formulate positions on such issues, consider a biblical perspective, and appraise the values impacting counselors and the counseling profession. (3 credits)
COUN 520 - Social & Cultural Foundations
In this course, students will examine the psychological and sociological factors that form self-concept and cultural identity, and consider how these constructs impact effective counseling with diverse populations. Students will begin a professional journey of developing multicultural competence through developing self-awareness, sensitivity to elements of diversity, knowledge of cultural values, and a commitment to the counseling professionâ??s core value of honoring diversity and embracing a multicultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts. Students will learn how to apply awareness and culturally competent skills and knowledge in interventions and advocacy practices with diverse populations. Course concepts will be considered through a biblical world view which provides a foundation for understanding how God views all people groups. (3 credits) Prerequisite: COUN505
COUN 550 - Theories & Skills of Counseling I
This course is part one of a two-part integrated skills and theories series that introduces students to the basic skills of the counseling relationship and the major theories of personality and psychotherapy, and provides students an experiential opportunity to begin practicing and assimilating these skills in their counselor identity. In Theories and Skills of Counseling I, students are introduced to counseling skills such as attending, active listening, empathy, questioning, observation, encouraging, summarizing, reflecting, and challenging. Skills are practiced with role play partners, video recorded and submitted to the professor for review and feedback. Theories covered in Theories and Skills of Counseling I include Psychodynamic, Adlerian, Client-Centered, Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy, Behavior Therapy, and Cognitive Therapy. Modern psychotherapies are considered through a biblical world view. (3 credits) Prerequisites: COUN515
COUN 551 - Theories & Skills of Counseling II
This course is part two of a two-part integrated skills and theories series that introduces students to the basic skills of the counseling relationship and the major theories of personality and psychotherapy, and provides students an experiential opportunity to begin practicing and assimilating these skills in their counselor identity. In Theories and Skills of Counseling II, students review counseling skills such as attending, active listening, empathy, questioning, observation, encouraging, summarizing, reflecting, and challenging. Skills are practiced with role play partners, video recorded and submitted to the professor for review and feedback. Theories covered in Theories and Skills of Counseling II include Existential, Gestalt, Interpersonal, Family Systems, Mindfulness/Contemplative, Positive Psychology, Integrative, and Multicultural approaches. Modern psychotherapies are considered through a biblical world view. (3 credits) Prerequisites: COUN515, COUN550
COUN 525 - Human Growth & Development
One of the philosophies underlying the counseling profession that helps set it apart from the other mental health professions is a developmental perspective; a recognition that many of the issues clients face in life are developmental in nature. This course introduces students to theories of individual and family development across the lifespan, theories of learning, theories of moral and spiritual development, and theories of normal and abnormal personality development. The course also delves into factors and circumstances that can impact a personâ??s development; biological, neurological, and physiological factors, addictive behaviors, systemic and environmental factors, crises, disasters, and trauma, and culture. Students will develop a general framework for developing interventions based on client developmental level and ethical and culturally relevant strategies for promoting resilience and wellness across the lifespan. (3 credits)
SCO 515 - Foundations of School Counseling
This course introduces students to the field of professional school counseling, including its history and development, employment settings, credentialing, legislation, research, and ethical considerations, school counselor roles and responsibilities, and other aspects of school counselor professional orientation. The course familiarizes students with models of school counseling programs, with an emphasis on the American School Counselor Association National Model. The course also covers assessments used in school counseling, and it focuses on the importance of supporting culturally and linguistically diverse students. (3 credits)
Year two:
SCO 520 - Child & Adolescent Diagnosis & Treatment
This course provides students with an overview of mental health and behavioral disorders that impact children and adolescents with a specific focus on impacts to the school setting, prevention, intervention, and treatment approaches, and interfacing with family, medical, and community systems. Considerations related to disorder etiology including environmental, social, family, school, substance use, and sexual behavior are considered. The course uses case studies, discussions, presentations, and reflection papers to assist students in developing strategies for engaging with child and adolescent clients, developing developmentally-appropriate case conceptualizations, and developing multicultural sensitivity in school settings. A Christian perspective on understanding and treating mental health disorders is integrated into the course. (3 credits)
COUN 510 - Assessment & Appraisal
This course provides students with a foundation of knowledge on assessment and appraisal processes, and information on important statistical and measurement concepts that are critical for utilizing and understanding assessment results. Students will become familiar with commonly used assessments in different settings and with different populations including career counseling, personality assessment, school counseling, educational testing, and psychological assessment. Students will learn how the field of assessment has developed historically, and will understand the major ethical implications of using assessment with clients and with using and communicating assessment results. Students will have the experiential opportunity to take at least one assessment and reflect on the process of taking the assessment and receiving the assessment results. (3 credits)
SCO 550 - School Counseling Contextual Dimensions
This course introduces students to the day-to-day life of a school counselor, with an emphasis on common roles and responsibilities of school counselors. These roles and responsibilities include school counselors as leaders and advocates in consultation with families, P-12 and postsecondary school personnel, and community agencies, and as developers of programs for addressing critical topics in school settings, including promoting equity, addressing racism, fostering teamwork and collaboration, and addressing difficult child and adolescent school behaviors. Students will gain an understanding of working with multidisciplinary teams, serving specific populations, crisis/threat assessment, and college/career advisement. This course also covers information and competencies related to cultural competency and working with diverse groups and teaching literacy to diverse groups in school settings. (3 credits)
COUN 555 - Crisis, Trauma, & Suicide
This course provides students with an overview of the provision of counseling services to clients experiencing crisis and trauma, with an emphasis on conducting suicide risk assessments and applying Psychological First Aid principles. Students will understand the impact of crisis and trauma on different types of clients and on clients in different settings, including clients in clinical mental health and school counseling settings. Students will also learn protocols for child abuse and neglect reporting. Working with suicidal clients will be approached from the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicide (CAMS) framework, and students will engage in practice sessions with a partner where they will apply the principles of the ABC Model of Crisis Intervention, and Psychological First Aid, suicide risk assessment, and safety planning skills. (3 credits)
COUN 605 - Skills II
This course is designed to give students practice experience engaging in a counseling relationship over the course of six sessions, in the practice setting most relevant to the clientâ??s future practice (clinical mental health, school counseling, etc.). Students will review and utilize basic counseling skills and continue developing their own individual counseling approaches with an emphasis on integration of theoretical orientation techniques, ethical practices, personality, spiritual integration, and setting-specific practices, under the instruction and evaluation of the course instructor. This course is largely experiential and is focused on preparing students for their Practicum experiences. Students will engage in a multi-session counseling experience with a learning partner focused on solidification of basic counseling skills and growth of advanced counseling skills. (3 credits) Prerequisites: COUN505, COUN515, COUN520, COUN550, COUN551; Prerequisite or concurrent with: COUN555, CMHC520, or SCO520.
SCO 610 - Practicum
The counseling Practicum experience provides students with an initial experience in providing counseling services in the school counseling setting. The Practicum experience requires a minimum of 100 clock hours of documented contact including indirect and direct service, and supervision both onsite (provided by a designated site supervisor) and in class (provided by your assigned faculty member). The Practicum course is a seminar-style class which supports students participating in their Practicum experience and which supports students in developing their basic counseling skills and in learning a variety of assessment and intervention techniques. Students are required to earn a minimum grade of a B in this course in order to move forward in the program. This course requires online students to attend weekly synchronous class meetings. The day/times of the meetings will be determined by the course instructor. (3 credits) Prerequisites: COUN505, COUN515, COUN520, COUN525, COUN550, COUN551, COUN555, COUN605.
COUN 585 - Research & Program Evaluation
This course provides students with practical guidance for accessing and comprehending published research articles with a goal of helping students incorporate an intention of understanding the evidence base for the interventions they use with clients and a willingness to be life-long consumers of counseling research. The course provides an overview of important methodological concepts of research, measurement and statistical concepts, and quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research methodologies. The course also examines program evaluation with a focus on understanding the need for, and strategies for utilizing program evaluation in diverse settings. (3 credits)
Year three:
SCO 540 - School Counseling Practice & Programs
This course provides an in-depth exploration of the practice of professional school counseling and the development and evaluation of school counseling programs. Students will examine the roles and responsibilities of school counselors as leaders and advocates in counseling, consulting, advocacy, and collaboration to promote academic success for all students. Students will scaffold program evaluation skills onto what they have previously learned about program design and implementation for a comprehensive understanding of school counseling program design, coordination, implementation, management, and evaluation. The course also introduces students to concepts of curriculum design, classroom management, and teaching and learning strategies. (3 credits)
COUN 530 - Group Counseling & Group Work
This course introduces students to the theory and practice of group counseling, its development within the field of counseling, and its utilization as an intervention in school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, and other settings. Group work requires some distinct understandings and approaches from individual counseling and as such, this course focuses on the stages of group formation, group therapeutic factors, group facilitation skills, dealing with challenges particular to group settings, and utilizing the group modality effectively. Students will be given the opportunity to participate in a group process, both as participants and as leaders. Because of this component, there will be a synchronous component to this course, where students will have to coordinate a day/time where they can consistently meet with their group to meet this requirement of the course. (3 credits) Prerequisites: COUN515, COUN550, COUN551, COUN605
COUN 580 - Career Development
This course provides an overview of career development theory, models, occupational information sources and systems, college and career readiness, and career assessment instruments for diverse populations. Students will consider the relevance of career in the overall development of the counseling profession, the interrelationship between work, mental well-being, relationships, and other life roles and factors, and specific career interventions in clinical mental health and school counseling settings. The course will focus on the career decision-making process and how counselors can use assessments and different career resources to gather information tailored to help guide the client in the decision-making process. (3 credits) Prerequisite: COUN510
SCO 615 - Internship I
The Counseling Internship experience provides students with experience in providing counseling services in the school counseling setting. The Internship experience requires a minimum of 600 clock hours spread over at least two semesters of documented contact including indirect and direct service, and supervision both onsite (provided by a designated site supervisor) and in class (provided by an assigned faculty member). The Internship course is a seminar-style class which supports students participating in their Internship experience and which supports students in developing their counseling skills and in learning a variety of counseling and intervention techniques. Students are required to earn a minimum grade of a B in this course in order to move forward in the program. This course requires online students to attend weekly synchronous class meetings. The day/times of the meetings will be determined by the course instructor. In this course, students will increase competency in their clinical skills, case conceptualization abilities, and ability to apply what they have learned in the program to the work they do with clients. Studentsâ?? caseloads and responsibilities will increase and they will continue to fine tune their theoretical orientations, increase awareness of their counseling styles, and develop their counseling identities. Students will also continue to develop their written and verbal communication and presentation skills, and peer feedback skills. (3 credits) Prerequisites: COUN505, COUN515, COUN520, COUN525, COUN550, COUN551, COUN555, COUN605, SCO610.
SCO 620 - Internship II
The Counseling Internship experience provides students with experience in providing counseling services in the school counseling setting. The Internship experience requires a minimum of 600 clock hours spread over at least two semesters of documented contact including indirect and direct service, and supervision both onsite (provided by a designated site supervisor) and in class (provided by an assigned faculty member). The Internship course is a seminar-style class which supports students participating in their Internship experience and which supports students in developing their counseling skills and in learning a variety of counseling and intervention techniques. Students are required to earn a minimum grade of a B in this course in order to move forward in the program. This course requires online students to attend weekly synchronous class meetings. The day/times of the meetings will be determined by the course instructor. In this course, students will continue to hone their clinical skills, case conceptualization abilities, and ability to apply what they have learned in the program to the work they do with clients. Students will continue develop their theoretical orientations, increase awareness of their counseling styles, and develop their counseling identities. Students will also continue to develop their written and verbal communication and presentation skills, and peer feedback skills. (3 credits) Prerequisites: SCO610, SCO615.
COUN 635 - Capstone
This course is intended to be a final summation of studentsâ?? experience in the clinical mental health counseling and school counseling programs. As such, it is intended to be taken during studentsâ?? last semester of the program, where they can reflect back on what theyâ??ve learned over the previous semesters. Students will reflect on and integrate features from psychology, theology, Christian spirituality, and the practice of evidence-based counseling skills and methods as students work to continue refining their individual counseling approaches that they will be applying in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling settings. (3 credits) Prerequisite: CMHC615 OR SCO615.

Total Credits: 60-63 credit hours

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